Higher Education for All: Keeping our Legacy Alive Troy Swanson, CCCTU Legislative Chair
We are the inheritors of a movement. A movement with a core idea that all people should have access to higher education. All people, regardless of their income, identity, or location. Our colleges were started in warehouses, storefronts, and in back wings of high schools. The faculty and staff who founded our colleges also founded our union. For over five decades, we have been at the forefront of this larger movement to ensure that higher education remains accessible to all. We have broken down barriers and paved the way for upward mobility for countless students.
Looking at all we’ve built over 50 years, it is easy to take our movement for granted. It is easy to assume we’ll always have our community colleges. But, this is an assumption we cannot afford to make. Now, more than ever, it is crucial that we come together to strengthen our voice and advocate for the principles that define us.
This is why we’ve launched our 2023-2024 COPE drive. COPE (Committee on Political Education) is our fund that supports our political infrastructure. This includes our lobbying efforts in Springfield, our ability to mobilize our members to vote, and our support for pro-labor elected officials.
Thanks to COPE and the work of our members, we have much to celebrate. Over the past year, we’ve seen a $19.4 million increase for community colleges in the state budget, the passage of the Workers’ Rights Amendment, the election of Brandon Johnson as Mayor of Chicago, and outreach to our suburban boards of trustees. This and much more has been made possible by our COPE fund.
Over this upcoming year, we will be reaching out to all of our members asking you to recommit to COPE. The basics of COPE are very simple. Each of us chips in a small contribution from each paycheck. When all of us give a little bit, it adds up. Remember, Local 1600 does not use dues contribution for our political work. That is why we rely upon COPE.
For existing contributors, we ask that you show your commitment with a slight increase in your support. If you haven't joined COPE yet, now is the perfect moment to stand with us. This campaign is an opportunity for each of us to advance our union's mission and make a meaningful impact on the issues that matter most to us, to our colleges, and to our students.
To join the COPE drive, fill out this COPE form and either give it to your chapter chair or send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have any questions, contact me at email@example.com or your chapter chair. You can also download our COPE campaign overview and our frequently asked questions document below.
Together, let us seize this opportunity to champion the ideals that have defined our union for over half a century. Our union has shaped higher education in Cook County and Illinois. Now, it is our collective responsibility to ensure that our legacy continues.